Erasmus Experience in Oslo, Norway by Valerie
What is the student lifestyle like in Oslo?
Student life is great! Student housing "cities" are set up a few places across Oslo and each has a mix of students from all the University-level institutions so you can have neighbours from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences (Idrettshogskole), the Business School, the main University of Oslo, etc.
Events are held regularly within the Student Cities (Studentby), at the schools and at a Student-run bar/club/event space downtown called Chateau Neuf. International students in particular are catered to at these events, and many are conducted in English, as is a lot of the general socializing.
Would you recommend the city and the University of Oslo to other students?
I really love this city. Access to the woods and the hiking and skiing trails that are there are so simple, the city has many parks, coffee houses, bars, etc., so there is always plenty to do, and the public transit is very effective (and it is not particularly expensive with the student discount).
I do not attend the University of Oslo. I am at a different school here. For anyone who might attend the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, it is awesome! There is a lot of construction happening on campus right now that is scheduled to finish summer 2017. Even with it, campus is really nice. We have a ski track in the snowy season, soccer fields that are groomed all winter so the snow is never a problem, a running track, an ice hockey and skating rink. There are also some tennis courts, a massive gym with three full-size basketball courts (or it can be set up for handball, volleyball, indoor soccer, etc), a large fully equipped weight room, access to a swimming pool, and the ability to "rent" some equipment (free for students).
We are immediately off a metro line direct to the center city so it is an easy commute (Kringsja Student City is only about a two minute walk, too), and we have Sognsvann Lake and the forest just behind the school. I would highly recommend it.
What is the food like?
It is a bit more expensive here than most places, but there are lots of options, grocery stores that are open late, and always a good cheap kebab available!
I tend to get my splurges at coffee shops and cafés that have nice sandwiches or salads in addition to baked goods. I would advise keeping an eye out for free events that include food! These happen relatively often at student events, but also coffee shops, museums, etc., will host them from time to time.
If you want to get into the local cuisine styles, then I hope you like fish. Travel on a weekend to one of the fishing towns by the coast to get better deals. Particularly up north (where you should go anyway to see a different experience of Norway).
Did it cost you to find your accommodation in Oslo?
No. I am in student housing. If your host school does not tell you about it (but I am sure they will), check out SiO (webpage also is available in English) and look at the housing tab. They run all the "Student Cities" I already mentioned. It is easy to get a contract with them. You will need your school's assistance, though, as proof of your acceptance to the school will be required. Your school ought to provide this for you anyway, so it should be no challenge to apply, get an offer, and sign your contract. In these housing units, you can choose furnished or not furnished, and the electric bill will be a flat rate so it does not matter how high you crank your heat in the winter, you will not have to pay anything extra!
How much does it cost to live in Oslo?
Depending on how many luxuries you are looking for in your room (private bathroom, floor space, private kitchen, pre-furnished or bring your own furniture, etc. ) and how much you watch your budget (not drinking every weekend, buying cheaper groceries, packing your lunch, etc. ) you can easily live here comfortably on less than seven-hundred fifty euros or so each month. Some manage on less than five hundred euros if they got really good housing deals for their rent, some tend to be more around one thousand euros if they are less worried about their budget. It is completely up to you.
Average costs in the grocery store will be higher than your home country almost guaranteed (maybe not if you come from Switzerland), beer on a night out will be about seven to ten euros depending on the bar, a month-long student pass for public transit is about forty euros (includes all metro, tram, and bus lines in zone one and is extensive. You would almost never need access to another zone, so this is a very good deal, really).
Is the language easy to get to grips with? Are there language courses available at the University?
My school organized Norwegian language courses for all our international students. I am not certain about the other campuses, but I would believe they will all have language courses available. English is completely sufficient for life here, however. Many international students learn little to no Norwegian during their stay.
If you are keen to learn the language, encourage your new Norwegian friends to speak it with you, watch news/TV/movies on NRK online (free and you can put on subtitles for most videos), and ask about other resources that are cheap/free for helping to learn. There are a lot from news sources to books to media.
What's the easiest or most economical way to travel to Oslo from your city?
I come from the United States, so the best flight deal you can find is the best option coming from there. Based on my travel to and from Oslo and other parts of Europe, flights may still be the best choice. Cheap airlines like RyanAir and Norwegian have decent prices. Check skyscanner to see the best prices. And if you look at Norwegian Air, enter the promo code UNDER26 to get cheaper tickets. Also, if you figure out what you need using your language first, actually book it while the website is set on Norwegian (and Norwegian kroner) because the cost is actually lower than what is listed for other currencies/languages (insider cheat! ).
Where would you recommend to go on a night out in Oslo?
Grunnerlokka or Youngstorget are a couple of the very popular neighborhoods for nights out. There are many options when you get there. Just find the place with the music you like best coming from its door and go have some fun!
Chateau Neuf (the student run center) has events often and is a bit more affordable sometimes. Near Gronland, Nationalteatret, and Majorstuen neighborhoods you can usually find some really good places, as well.
Most (maybe all? ) of the "Student Cities" have a pub or bar in their complex with much better prices. Some host trivia nights weekly which is always a good time.
And have your own parties as often as you can! Norwegians love to pre-party. Be aware of the schedule of drinks you buy at the grocery stores, before eight o'clock in the evening Monday through Friday or before six o'clock in the evening Saturdays AND no alcohol sales on Sundays at the shops. It will be significantly cheaper than those you buy out on the town.
What good cultural sites are there to visit?
There are many museums (some have free days or student discounts) like the Folk Museum, Munch Museum (the artist who painted the Scream), and the Viking Museum, Vigeland and Eckeberg Parks (there is art all around these free outdoor parks! ), Hollmenkollen Ski Jump which you can see from most places around the city and go to the top of to get an amazing view as long as you do not accidentally plan that trip on a foggy day, the Opera House by the harbor which you can walk to the roof of or take a tour which is free... Big events happen often, so you should look for those (Ski World Cups, X Games, Junior Olympics, National Day and Russ, etc. ).
If you really want to see some traditional culture around Oslo, head to the Marka (the woods) and ski or hike out to Ullevaalseter on a weekend. You will see so many people on the trails. Ullevaalseter is a cabin that has a café with food, hot drinks, etc. Bring an orange and a Kvikk Lunsj for the trail, and you will be just like a true Norwegian!
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